The manufacturing sector has suddenly gone into a contraction, undermining President Barack Obama’s June 3 campaign-ad portraying him as the champion of American workers.
Titled “Believes,” the ad shows how “President Obama fought to save the auto industry and continues to fight to end tax breaks for companies that shift jobs overseas,” said a statement from the campaign.
In contrast, Gov. “Mitt Romney’s companies were pioneers in outsourcing US jobs to low-wage countries,” says the ad. “President Obama believes in insourcing. He fought to save the US auto industry. And favors tax cuts for companies that bring jobs home,” says the ad.
That claim about Romney has been partly contested by another liberal organization, Factcheck.org, which says there’s no evidence that jobs were exported by firms partly owned by Bain Capital, prior to Romney’s departure in 1999.
The anti-Romney ads have also been undermined by a series of statements from top Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton. But the ads have damaged Romney’s standing in swing-states, according to a Democratic polling firm, Democracy Corps.
So far, Romney’s team has not spent much money on positive-ads that would tout his job-creation record.
The manufacturing sector’s decline was revealed June 2 by an index of manufacturing activity, which fell to 49.7 in June, down from 53.5 in May. An index below 50 shows reduced economic activity. The index was developed by the Institute for Supply Management.
“This is not good,” Dan Greenhaus, chief economic strategist at at an international financial firm, told the Associated Press. This “does not mean recession for the broader economy [but] it is still a terribly weak number,” he said.
The slide in manufacturing numbers is ominous for Obama, partly because he has repeatedly touted growth in manufacturing sales and jobs as evidence that his policies are working better than Romney’s policies.
“The good news is, is that over the past two years… our manufacturers are creating jobs for the first time since the 1990s,” he said April 18 at a campaign event in Dearborn, Mich. “Now we’ve got to keep it going… the last thing we can afford to do is to go back to the very same policies that got us into this mess in the first place,” he claimed.
This emphasis on manufacturing jobs has also helped protect Obama from political damage caused by his handling of the economy and by the resulting record unemployment, deficits and debt.
In June, for example, Obama and his aides were able to downplay the bad job-creation numbers for May by touting the appearance of an extra 12,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector.
Should the job numbers get even worse, Obama is likely to see his approval numbers dip again, especially because he’s also trying to boost support among Latino voters by creating a de-facto amnesty for roughly 800,000 lower skilled illegal immigrants.
In his recent campaign speeches, Obama has tried to portray Romney as a job-exporter, even though Romney’s boosters cite evidence that his investments have helped create 100,000 U.S. jobs.
That campaign-trail pitch is more aggressive than his earlier claims, which fronted claims that the manufacturing sector is growing because of Obama’s progressive policies.